When it comes to smoking bidi and hookah, the name ‘India’ is not very far behind. India is ranked first in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease deaths.

Smoking has always been a problem and it’s after effects have often very easily been neglected. India with about 2.65 million patients followed by China with 2.57 million and Japan with 2.12 COPD patients, stands at top of the charts as detected in a survey which has created chaos amongst people. Within India, Assam is all set to break the record in the percentage of COPD.

Dr. Basanta Hazarika, Associate Professor, pulmonary medicine, Gauhati Medical College, gives the readers some information about COPD and the causes behind it. “COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, is primarily described as prototype Chronic Bronchitis (CB). It has now become a major cause of health care burden worldwide, and the only leading cause of death that is increasing in prevalence.”

“Not only smokers fall in the trap of such disease, but COPD is also a problem for non-smokers too, particularly in women and children. Both in childhood and adulthood one can be the target of such disease,” he adds.

He further, says, “Solid fuels or biomass fuels such as dried dung, wood and crop residues are a major problem for COPD countries like India, Nepal, China. Women are at high risk when it comes to domestic cooking in kitchens with poorly ventilated houses.”

Global warming is a matter of concern in the recent years and is also causing many such diseases of which people are unaware. Pulling the list longer, Dr. Basanta Hazarika said, “Air pollution is killing so rapidly that one can not even measure. And with the increasing ideas of metro cities these problems have got a way to penetrate in the lives of people. When randomly selected, the residents of Delhi are seen to be more vulnerable to respiratory symptoms of chronic cough, phlegm, and dyspnea.Industrial wastes and dust produced every day are seen as a reason behind the disease. Other than these, increasing age, low socio-economic status and infections are also included as risk factors.”

Discussing the common signs and symptoms Dr. Hazarika said, “One of the first symptoms would surely be cough that produces mucus at a bulk which is also known as smokers cough. The patient might also suffer from shortness of breath, wheezing, making a whistling sound while breathing and chest tightness. So for safety purposes, if someone gets these problems, it’s better to go to doctor rather than ignoring it.”

Dr. Hazarika spoke about rehabilitation too, “Tobacco smoking remains at the top of risk factors that leads to deterioration of lung functions and disease progression in COPD. However, rehabilitation is the best way to limit as well as stop the flow of the disease in people. Anyway, there is no such rehab clinic in town, but yes during treatment, the respective hospitals provide rehab to the patients. During the period we educate them about the disease, and then give courses on exercise and also some nutrition plans.”

“But frankly speaking Assam has progressed over the years and has set a negative example where the disease is spreading its wings openly” he adds. Lastly Dr. Hazarika said, “The statistical data of people suffering here is not yet known. But throughout my medical experience I have seen quite a lot of patients both in severe and normal stage. Where Mizoram rules the list.”

Cover Image Source: Lungs Disease

The report as interviewed and presented by our columnist Karishma Deri